The museum was owned by famous showman P. Barnum, who purchased Scudder's American Museum in 1841. The museum offered both strange and educational attractions. It burned to the ground in 1865. The museum is also referenced in the Broadway musical Barnum. It was relaunched on the Internet in July 2000.HistoryIn 1841 Barnum bought Scudder's American Museum across from St. Paul's at the corner of Bro
adway and Ann Street. He converted the five-story exterior into an advertisement lit with limelight. The museum opened on January 1, 1842. Its attractions made it a combination zoo, museum, lecture hall, wax museum, theater and freak show, that was, at the same time, a central site in the development of American popular culture. Barnum filled the American Museum with dioramas, panoramas, "cosmoramas," scientific instruments, modern appliances, a flea circus, a loom run by a dog, the trunk of a tree under which Jesus’ disciples sat, an oyster bar, a rifle range, waxworks, glass blowers, taxidermists, phrenologists, pretty-baby contests, Ned the learned seal, the Feejee Mermaid (a mummified monkey's torso with a fish's tail), midgets, Chang and Eng the Siamese twins, a menagerie of exotic animals that included beluga whales in an aquarium, giants, Native Americans who performed traditional songs and dances, Grizzly Adams's trained bears and performances ranging from magicians, ventriloquists and blackface minstrels to adaptations of biblical tales and "Uncle Tom's Cabin."